Italian cleaner thinks contemporary art is a bit rubbish

February 25th, 2014 Category: Educational Establishments Office Cleaning

Have you ever emptied the bin and then suddenly realised something you needed was in the bag? Imagine that feeling and multiply it by 100 and you may be close to the sensation an Italian cleaner experienced when she threw away a pricey piece of contemporary art.

The unnamed woman saw newspaper, cardboard and biscuit crumbs scattered across the floor and assumed it was the mess left by the people who set up the ‘Mediating Landscape’ exhibition. When in fact, is was part of Sala Murat’s display and worth thousands.

Lorenza Roca, from cleaning firm Chiarissima, defended the cleaner, saying she was “just doing her job”. He added that the company’s insurance policy would be able to cover the value of the artwork, worth an estimated €10,000 (£8,200).

The local press reported that security realised a few items from the exhibition were missing when the venue – situated in the province of Bari – opened last Wednesday (February 19th).

News later emerged that the cleaner had swept away the exhibit and handed it over to refuse collectors. 

Antonio Maria Vasile, city marketing commissioner, said: "We are obviously very sorry for what happened.

"It's clear the cleaning person did not realise she had thrown away two works and their value. But this is all about the artists who have been able to better interpret the meaning of contemporary art, which is to interact with the environment.”

This is not the first time a cleaner has accidentally thrown away artwork. 

Back in 2001, a Damien Hirst installation at London’s Eyestorm Gallery was cleared away. The exhibit consisted of full ashtrays, half-filled coffee cups, empty beer bottles that were strewn across the gallery floor. 

According to The Guardian, the cleaner, Emmanuel Asare, said:  “I didn't think for a second that it was a work of art – it didn't look much like art to me. So I cleared it all into binbags and dumped it.”

In 2004, an exhibit made up of a bag of paper and cardboard by German artist Gustav Metzger was binned while on display at Tate Britain. Ironically, the artist is famed for his creation of auto-destructive art.